This year’s Voice of Pride wasn’t short on familiar faces from previous years. You can almost guarantee who you’ll see in the finals each time, but this time, veterans stepped up their games big time. Some found their voices while others polished off past performances to a shine. But the night belonged to victor Angie Landers.
After her first round song “Anyway” by Martina McBride, it could have been fair to say that Landers had it in the bag. The crowd was behind her after all her just-misses in the past. But no one held back from working to give performances of their lives. Vanessa Guzman added sparkle to her deliveries in both dresses and charisma. She crooned “At Last” with solid emotional conviction in Round 1 and continued to knock out the crowd with a killer rendition of “Rain on My Parade.” Showtunes never hurt in this competition, but she amplified it to bombastic.
I’ve seen Carlos Saenz perform several times, but there was always a little something missing. He would sometimes be a little stiff with the song, or a tune didn’t display his talents properly. He found whatever that was Sunday night. In dapper threads, Saenz channeled his sex appeal and “there-it-is” voice with soulful versions of “Unchained Melody” and the gospel tune “His Eyes on the Sparrow.” Stellar stuff that gave him a good shot.
Erik Way, another familiar name to the contest, brought it just as hard. As the second “You & I” of the night, he somehow trumped an already impressive version by Jennifer Arrambide. Along with Landers, these were the ones to keep an eye on, but Landers seemed to have learned from prior outings how to relax into her music and her first track, Martina McBride’s “Anyway,” showed she was there to win.
I tend to question obvious song choices (read: Celine, Whitney), so when her second round song “One Moment in Time” by Whitney Houston started, I cringed a bit. Landers didn’t try to be Houston, but instead, embraced the song into her own and in her final note, the buzz in the crowd was for sure in her favor.
As the winner was to be announced, emcee Edna Jean Robinson played coy before announcing her name, but once he had, the crowd erupted, as did Landers.
“I’m so proud of her,” Robert Olivas said. “She finally did it, and I knew it was her night.”
Olivas is the other half of Spare Parts, the singing duo with Landers who won last year’s competition for groups.
Newcomers Aaron Alarcorn and Jazsmyne Kelly made healthy impressions in their first finals with operatic work by the former and some sexy soul by Starks. If there could be a Balls Out award given, that should be handed to Steven Patterson for his second tune, Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round.” The clean cut guy with the sweet face was committed to the retro dance tune — never treating it tongue in cheek which kinda made it great.
The runners-up included Greg Castillo, fourth runner-up, Eric Way, third, Carlos Saenz, second and Vanessa Guzman as first runner-up. More photos after the jump.